I wrote an essay last July, prior to the premiere of the most recent Breaking Bad season, about how fans of the series hate the character of Skyler White (Anna Gunn), call her a bitch, and utterly despise her, while giving a pass to much more evil actions by other characters.
A whole lot of Breaking Bad fans may not hate Walter White (Bryan Cranston) for selling crystal meth, committing numerous murders, poisoning a child or bombing a nursing home, but they can’t bring themselves to forgive Skyler for cheating on her husband or for occasionally adopting an emasculating tone.
My piece and others like it touched off a months-long discussion on various entertainment sites about the antihero male protagonists of prestige cable dramas, their wives, and the double standards in the way viewers approach them. It appears someone else has been paying attention to the discussion: Vince Gilligan, the creator of Breaking Bad and its primary creative voice.
Speaking in an interview with New York magazine, Gilligan addressed the “Skyler is a bitch” issue:
Man, I don’t see it that way at all. We’ve been at events and had all our actors up onstage, and people ask Anna Gunn, “Why is your character such a bitch?” And with the risk of painting with too broad a brush, I think the people who have these issues with the wives being too bitchy on Breaking Bad are misogynists, plain and simple. I like Skyler a little less now that she’s succumbed to Walt’s machinations, but in the early days she was the voice of morality on the show. She was the one telling him, “You can’t cook crystal meth.” She’s got a tough job being married to this asshole. And this, by the way, is why I should avoid the Internet at all costs. People are griping about Skyler White being too much of a killjoy to her meth-cooking, murdering husband? She’s telling him not to be a murderer and a guy who cooks drugs for kids. How could you have a problem with that?
Nobody ever said Skyler White was an angel or a saint. But the reaction between her bad acts and her husband’s seems a tad disproportionate to me.
The entire interview is worth reading in full, including Gilligan’s reaction to the news that accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was a Breaking Bad fan. Meanwhile, if you’re planning a catchup before the final season, you’ve got just three months: Breaking Bad returns for its final eight episodes August 11.